Latin America Specialist Arden has just returned from a trip to Peru, Ecuador, and the Galapagos where she traveled on the Andean Explorer through Peru and met the fearless wildlife of the Galapagos Islands.
These eight photos she's shared will send these regions to the top of your bucket list.
The Andean Explorer, Peru
The meandering train line of the Andean Explorer
During my trip I took the stunning Andean Explorer train ride from Puno to Cuzco. What made this journey so incredible for me was the changing landscape from the observation deck and the views of the Andes Mountains. The journey takes around ten hours past lush green valleys and herds of llama.
The vibrant city of Lima, Peru
Along the coast at Lima
Lima is one of the most vibrant cities I've ever visited, from the bright colors splashed across the architecture to the people themselves. This huge city has such a diverse landscape and I felt like I could have spent forever exploring.
Ancient Inca ruins, Cuzco
Inca ruins outside Cuzco
During my Cuzco city tour, I visited the Inca ruins on the outskirts of the city. The main plaza, known as Sacsayhuaman, was probably my favorite of the sites.
This was my first encounter with a full Incan archaeological site, and I was blown away by the complexity and beauty of the architecture.
One man band in Ecuador
On the way to Otavalo in Ecuador, we stopped at small market towns along the way. The towns were amazing in themselves, but when I mentioned my interest in musical instruments, my guide added a stop at a local instrument shop. We were given a demonstration of pan pipe making and a small concert. I ended up buying the pan pipe they'd made, and it was a very special experience.
Sea lions in the Galapagos Islands
Sea lions blending in with the landscape
I was lucky enough to visit the Galapagos Islands during sea lion breeding season, which meant there were baby sea lions everywhere! They would dance around, play in pairs, and even come right up to me as if inviting me to join in the fun.
The sea lions on the Galapagos Islands are the most curious and incredible creatures I've ever encountered. They are beyond compare.
A pelican in the Galapagos
I found the wildlife in the Galapagos to be uniquely fearless, which made for some incredible encounters with some of the world's most impressive species. It was not uncommon to need to step over a sea lion or hide your chips from a finch in the archipelago. The bold brown pelican was a common sight, sitting and waiting on the pier for lunch.
Sunset in the Galapagos
For the last bit of my trip in the Galapagos, I was aboard the Ocean Spray cruise ship. From the deck on the ship I was greeted every morning by a fantastic view and ended my days with breathtaking sunsets. On my last night, I was sitting on the deck relaxing when a whole group of frigate birds started following our ship from above. Whilst motoring away from Floreana Island, one of the birds happened to fall into shot, allowing me to capture the perfect photo, with the sunset in the background.